Is I'm Still Here Eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar?

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 20 2010 5:35 PM

Is I'm Still Here Eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar?


When I'm Still Here debuted at the Venice Film Festival, it was billed as a documentary tracking Joaquin Phoenix's retirement from acting, pursuit of a career as a hip hop artist, and attendant drug- and alcohol-fuelled debauchery. Critics, including our own Dana Stevens , questioned whether the film was, in fact, a documentary, or rather a bizarre hoax.  Last week, Casey Affleck, the film's director, admitted to the Times that the film is "performance art." (That is, a hoax.) Can I'm Still Here , a film marketed as a documentary, but plainly a piece of fiction, qualify for a best documentary award at the Oscars?


No. Just because you call your movie a documentary doesn't mean the Academy has to agree with you. According to the rules for the 83 rd Academy Awards , eligible docs may "employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills," and animation but their "emphasis" must be "on fact and not on fiction." I'm Still Here clearly doesn't fit the bill.

A spokeswoman from the Academy has told Slate that, regardless of the film's content, it came out too late to qualify for the Best Documentary award the cutoff is August 31 st 2010, and I'm Still Here hit American theaters on September 10 th .  There is still time, however, to submit the film for the Best Motion Picture category, which closes December 1 st .  And since Phoenix is playing a part (albeit a fictionalized version of himself), he's eligible for a Best Actor nomination.




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